Monday 28 March 2011

Social Media Jerks

The absolute worst thing about any new medium is the mid-emergence jerks who dictate how to use it.

They are the losers who came to the party when most everyone is already tipsy and then started telling you how to play the drinking games.

I am absolutely over being told how to use, not abuse and to act loose in this new "social media".

They speak of "twittering" and claim to have "blogged it to Facebook". They count their followers and friends as some kind of quantification of their coolness.

It's sad to watch. They are quite pathetic and desperate to belong but also stand on the outer and legislate the behaviour of the sub-culture, based purely on observation.

Stop telling people how to act. Stop defining us like you're some kind of botanist in an undiscovered jungle.

You bore me. You can't sell me anything because you're a joke.

Go away.

Once this sub-culture went mainstream... there went the neighborhood.

Friday 25 March 2011

Trust Degraded

One of my New Year's Resolution was to be more open to different kinds of people in the world. To not judge and reject people because they failed to meet a set criteria for those I would associate with.

For the last three months, that attitude has seen an array of characters waltz in and out of my life. It has to be said that I have never made a more stupid of harmful resolution in my entire life.

It was a mistake.

I have been used, abused, fooled, embarrassed, humiliated, hurt and brutally re-educated by the lowest forms of life, crawling this pretty enough planet.

Men have told me all I want to hear and then turned on me. Women have gained my trust, only to betray it so easily.

Wow! What a seedy world there is underneathe that one that I inhabit. There be dragons.

Resolutions are a good idea because they give you a new set of rules by which to try new things and reform your life. They don't always work. It's not often they fail so miserably for me but I guess that happens.

My trust has been degraded but I am learning more about myself and the environment around me. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no. It menas I will be less trusting but that is a good thing. Am I learning? Yes and no. Some of the things I am learning suck though and I wish I didn't have to suffer so much to gain the knowledge. Has this changed me for the better? Yes and no. I see that there is so much bad in the world but the contrast has made me appreciate the good.

For the record, this resolution has stopped dead. There will be no more accepting idiots for who they are and thinking they are deep-down good types. Nope, first impressions. Trust my instincts. Be less bleeding heart and more realistic.

Monday 21 March 2011

Awea Damana

My mother on the right, with her eldest sister

Spending the weekend with my mother and her eldest sister has been more than wonderful. It shall take me some time to find the exact words for how special it is. Do you know those moments where you sit back and think "This is special. I'm going to remember this moment forever"? It was a whole series of those.

Last night, we sat around my sister's giant dinner table and listened to our mothers (in my culture, your aunts are also your mother and the term for them is mother) tell stories, while we ate the best apricot chicken ever. I can remember this to be how things have always been in our family. Stories are told. There are new ones, random ones and lots of old ones that are retold until they are burnt in to your brain. Sometimes, you correct the story teller and say "that's not what happened" although you were never there.

My mother is the second born of seven sisters. She has no brothers.

In a society run by men and for men, a brood of daughters is considered quite a handicap. My maternal grandparents never accepted that. The result was them bringing up 7 of the strongest and most impressive women that Papua New Guinea has ever seen.

From a village on the coast, over the other side of the Owen Stanley Ranges from Port Moresby to the best universities in the world came 7 sisters who achieved the highest at all levels of their chosen fields.

There are many stories that are tangential to my main one and they will be told in good time, possibly by me or by those who walked the walk. My story is that of my maternal grandmother or Awea (pronounced Av-ia) in the Korafe language from that part of Papua New Guinea.

Today we hear of single mothers who are struggling to get by. They rush home from their second job and passed the supermarket to get something to throw together for dinner.

My awea had seven children to care for after my grandfather passed away. She had her own garden and would gather food for the daily meal on her own. She fixed things around the house that a man would normally do and right before sunset, she would rush out and throw in a line to catch fish to go with the garden staples. Some nights she caught two little fish and other times she got a few more. That was all the meat that the family had with their dinner.

Yesterday evening, I listened to my mother tell the story of how she herself went down to fish to help her mum out. The third sister in my mum's family was a much better fisherman than my Mum ever was but this one day, it was my mother's go to provide for the family.

Mum threw in her line and pulled out a fish that was about 20cm long. It was a decent sized fish for one person and in the end fed all eight of them a small piece each.

Listening to my mother tell this story made me sad in that happy kind of way. She beamed with pride as she spoke of her chance to contribute and how much it meant to her family. This little girl with so many siblings and so little of anything else, had provided for the people she loved.

It is as if that one fish marks a very important moment for my mother, who now will not let a single person she knows go to bed hungry. She gives and gives without end. I often wonder when she will stop and give to herself but I guess after hearing that story again, I actually understood why now. That contribution felt so good that it changed her. It has lasted a lifetime. It makes her feel better to give and know that even if it is very little that people around her are not alone.

You can always have half of what I have. That's what my mother taught me. At least then, we both have something.

My mother is wonderful. Her mother was wonderful.

My grandmother, my awea was named Damana. In Korafe that means "star". I am honoured to have her name.

Monday 14 March 2011

Breaking the girl

In Australia, there is a big push to not push the less fortunate. I was brought up a staunch Labor supporter. Unions are the saviours of the working class and give the rights we now demand at all levels of employment and society.

This is a lucky country. A country where you can do so much or do so little, if you choose.

Immigrants arrive with a great work ethic and a different attitude to education and social responsibility. Where I grew up until the age of 7, education was a privilege and not a right. It was and still is a third world country. Health services are almost non-existent. People go to hospital to die, not to get better. I never drank tap water with fluoride in it until I moved to Darwin and this is telling in my smile. Every year of school is decided not just on a passing mark from the previous year but also on whether your parents can afford a good portion of their yearly wage to pay your school fees. Some families get to the point where they choose the smartest or most likely to succeed child to send on through school.

This is a different world to Australia where teachers are treated with contempt and blamed for discipline problems and the embarrassing literacy rate for a first world country. We even live in a time when it's politically incorrect to discuss which world (first of third) that someone lives in.

There is so much political correctness that a teacher is not allowed to fail a student, even if they fail. The end of semester reports are all worded in a positive light with not a tinge of truth, in case that would hurt.

Parents punch teachers. Students throw chairs at them. Teachers can't even pat a child on the head anymore. They will actually instruct a child to pat themselves on the back for doing well.

I know a male teacher in the ACT who decided that he was sick of being called to deal with axe wielding parents who were disputing custody issues on the school grounds, simply because he was one of two male employees on campus. He is now a fireman because that is a safer and less stressful job. Yes, fighting fires is safer.

Parents pop these children out and are rewarded a big screen TV in family benefits and then ongoing Blu-Ray costs. Children learn nothing at home and are sent to school and instruct the teachers to start teaching them stuff because their parents aren't impressed that they can't read or add or even construct a sentence.

Julia Gillard used to be the federal Education Minister, in the Rudd government. She clearly stated that the biggest priority in schools is the CHILDREN AND PARENTS.

She did not even once support the role of the educator. She pushed a nationwide curriculum on to teachers and took away their release time to make sure they could satisfy all the statistics gathering for the MySchools website. With all this extra work, they were given less time to do it, more meetings to attend and more work to do from home.

If I have to listen to one ore fool say that teachers get 12 weeks of leave and work six hours a day then I will bitch slap them silly.

I know a lot of teachers. They work more than 6 hour days. The do marking, planning; moderation; reporting to every man and his dog; statistics gathering; psychological support to children, parents and other staff; constant learning and reading; study to better their qualifications; and much much more.

These are highly trained professionals with degrees and other qualifications. Like all professionals, they work a lot in their own time to ensure they keep up with their profession and the changing world they work in.

They are educators, nurses, psychologists, prison officers, data entry clerks, surrogate parents, child carers and play a lot of other roles.

For this amazing amount of work, they receive a maximum of $80K (simply as a teacher) a year and little respect from the community and politicians.

Julia Gillard has made this worse. She is a disgrace and should know better as an ex-Education minister. I'm sure parents and kids and battlers are very happy with her but I'm not.

Parents should be teaching their children when they aren't at school. I knew how to read, write and do maths by the time I started pre-school. So did my siblings and my friends, whose parents were educated and valued education. We were immigrants too and education was a privilege. Teachers were well-respected members of society whose sacrifice and lifelong commitment to learning was valued, in those poor nobody third world countries.

People have to take responsibility for a nation of barely literate people who breed without concern for consequences.

I believe in social responsibility. I believe that all people should be educated for free, given health care for free and that poverty should be eradicated like the disease it is. I'm not saying stop helping. I'm saying, give a little credit where it is due. Stop being so horrible to teachers.

If I was a teacher, I'd scream that I don't get paid enough danger money for this job and walk out and do something safe like fighting fires.

Sunday 13 March 2011

The Great Wall of Ignorance

There is a good friend of our family in Darwin. We have known her for many years. She's beautiful, articulate, intelligent, qualified and cultured. She's been to more countries than most Darwinians know exist. I love hanging out with her. We have walked very different paths but share a similar view of the world - we like our lives and ourselves.

At breakfast today, we shared some stories...

I was talking to some acquaintances and mentioned the day Nelson Mandela was freed and the day he retired. One of the women sitting with us said "Oh, he's not retired." I was surprised and said that I thought he was just a statesmen these days. She agreed and said "Oh, he is a statesman. He's the president of the United States." In shock, I said nothing.

Another day after returning from a holiday to China, a friendly colleague asked how the trip was. "I climbed the Great Wall" was the response. She looked confused and then said "Oh, I thought they knocked that down".

To say some people live in a bubble is to imply that cocoon can be burst and reality let in. I sure hope that is the case one day.

Michael says

Beat me, hate me
You can never break me
Will me, thrill me
You can never kill me
chew me, sue me
Everybody do me
Kick me, kike me
Don't you black or white me

-- Michael Jackson

A good sleep

The best thing about a good sleep is that it puts everything in to perspective.

If those losers want to give me a hiding because I refuse to go out with their leader, then there isn't much I can do right now.

There is no point in locking the doors and waiting for a threat that may never come.

Instead, I'm going to continue with life and being happy. Those in this world who hate their lives and resent me for having it better, are of little to no significance.

They are bullies and this is no longer high school. Let them bring it. I shall face them head on and hold my head high.

My life is privileged and happy. There is no apologizing for the hard work I've done and the path I have chosen, to be here today.

Patrick Swayze said it best: "No one puts Baby in the corner."

Saturday 12 March 2011

Must I be dead?

Today has been lovely relaxed Saturday. My Mum and I hung out together and did our own thing. Siena the kitty and I, had a nice afternoon nap in the aircon while the humidity of Darwin belts those poor souls outside around. After a quick trip to the shop, I scored peaches and an affordable sparkling white with the soul intent of making Bellinis. They are currently my favourite drink, since I can sip on them and not really be drinking much. Sweet and fruity - perfect for the hot tropics.

I decided to make some meatballs for dinner, when the sun set at just after 7pm-ish. While packing the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen, I came across a white envelope with my name on it. My name had been spelt "Demana" and my address was scribbled on it in big round writing. I opened it, thinking it was something a friend had dropped off in my mailbox. There wasn't a stamp.

In it was a plain white card containing a threat.

I did what I was advised and called the police. I reported it and was advised to go in and talk to someone on Monday. It is quite terrifying but my mother is super strong and never gets shaken by anything.

The first police call-centre person that I spoke to was quite helpful. The second guy said to me that there was little that could be done and the police can't get involved unless I'm actually hurt. He said "threats happen all the time". I actually did ask him if I must be physically hurt before anyone cares. He said that is when the police can do something.

This is not the world I live in. I'm not used to threats and people knowing where I live. It's scary. To be told that nothing I'm feeling is valid until something terrible happens to me, makes me feel even worse.

I probably did the wrong thing but I called my ex and asked if him and his girlfriends could please stop harassing me. I wanted to try to reason with him before bringing in the cops. He laughed at me and said that he can't stop people from threatening me. He's not the police. This isn't his problem.

Knowing where I stand is good. I'm not going to retaliate. I'm going to keep collecting evidence and go to the police. I will not be waiting until someone physically harms me or kills me before getting help.

The police can expect a visit from me.

Today I don't feel like doing anything

Tuesday 8 March 2011

If only you could hear what I hear

Maybe I have a trusting face.

Maybe I am so high disclosure that people feel they know me and can trust me.

Maybe people feel for me and want to tell me that they know how it feels.

In the last few days, I have heard so many stories about people being bullied. They were children or adults. They were friends or they were partners. They were afraid and they got strong.

Thank you for your stories. It takes a lot of voice these memories when the people who did these things made us feel worthless. It takes strength to keep going and throw away those horrible times and forget the words that hurt so much for so long.

Keep being good people. Don't let bed people make you less than what you are.

Freer or Fear

I'm in a strange predicament.

After cutting off the axis of idiocy, who abused me the other night, I feel afraid.

Afraid that they will do something more. Something more frightening.

As for what, I don't quite know. Maybe turn up at my front door or send someone on their behalf. Maybe run in to me in the city and hurt me.

Hopefully, they are content with their emotional torture from the other night and will leave me be.

At present, I lock the door of the house when I'm both inside or away from home. I lock the car door as soon as I'm in it.

My heart beats a little faster when I see an old white Camry. I'm jumpy. Usually, I'm pretty blasé about everything. Not now.

I hope this feeling passes soon. The stress is very taxing.


Monday 7 March 2011

Intolerable Cruelty

There is a guy that I broke up with. Let's from this point forth refer to him as Mr X. He and I have shared friends. We have stayed friends and hung out over the last few weeks.

Last night, he invited me out with our mutual friends. Told me where we were meeting and when. I was happy to go since I'd been working hard for the money, all week and wanted to get some time with my besties.

I got ready and grabbed a cab in to the city. Arrived exactly on time, as promised. No one was there yet so I grabbed a Bellini and a comfy couch, to pass the time. The party arrived one hour and 15 minutes after I got there. In that time, I'd slowly sipped my drink and read the text messages promising they were on their way "right now".

When my friends walked in, I only recognised two of them. Mr X and another woman who he hangs out with a lot. She's a bit of a groupy of his and has been a little aggressive towards me in the past. With them was another rough looking woman with tattoos. I did noticed all her tattoos were spelt correctly if that counts for much.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. I played it cool and tried to work out how I was meant to react to the situation. I grabbed a drink and agreed to sit and chat with them. After all, I'd just taken a $40 taxi ride to be there and was in a happy mood, despite the confusion clouding my head.

They then proceeded to tell me that he was a player and that I had been played. That he never wanted to see me anyway and I hadn't dumped him since he never liked me. It felt very high school. The three of them admitted to "being together" and I didn't bother to ask them to elaborate. They are a rough bunch while sober and they were doing shots by now. I was holding on to my second Bellini and still wondering how I should react. It was a bit like facing a lion who is mauling a friend. You want to save your friend but you don't want to get mauled. Unfortunately, this analogy sux since I was the friend being mauled and the friend watching. [Work with me here, guys]

After they started laughing at me and calling me naive and gullible, I drank the rest of my drink and excused myself. I got straight in to a taxi and headed home.

I was still in shock when the text messages started flooding my phone. They were ridiculing me and attacking me like a bunch of snapping hyenas. He had shared my number with them so they could hurl abuse at me in a howling unison.

As I emerged from the mental haze, I realised I was upset. I felt foolish and afraid and isolated and sad. That made me angry. I retaliated and said some mean stuff then realised that they are the type of people to walk up and glass me, to express displeasure at my excessive use of the word "bogan".

I turned my phone down. Once I stopped reacting, they stopped attacking. I got home, said hi to my Mum and headed straight to bed. I lay awake in silence - still shocked - from when I got home at 10:30pm to 2:30am, when the phone started ringing. It was Mr X. I didn't answer. Then the voicemail messages started coming. I listened to them. They called me pathetic and a loser. I was upset. I didn't understand. It felt like being bombarded with small pellets. Each did no real damage but in total, the bruises were forming. I turned the phone off.

This morning, I changed my number. This time, I'll guard that number. Next time, there will be no next time.

Interesting thing is that I stopped being upset once the phone was off. I couldn't sleep. In fact, I didn't sleep all night. Tried but no go. Got maybe 15 minutes this morning. It's been more than a day since I slept properly.

I know this feeling. This lack of all feeling. That numbness that comes when my brain turns off the feelings. When the sleep won't come, no matter how long I wait. I'm aware of what is happening to me. It's a slip back in to that depression. Luckily, I'm in a good place and know how to deal with this. Let it run its course. Let the moments pass in a safe place - at home and at work. Let the emptiness fill again with normal feelings. Let people I know and trust know that I need someone to look out for me at the moment. Let the rain come down.

It seems I'm dealing extraordinarily well with the situation. In the past, this would have devastated me. People I've spoken to this morning have said they might not cope so well. Me... I'm doing ok. It's a bump in the road. It's a blip on a radar. It's a learning experience from hell. It's all going to be ok.

Depression does not own me anymore. In fact, no one does. Not Mr X and his harem of banshee bogan skanks. Not the cloud that once engulfed me and made the air so hard to breathe. Nothing. Nil. Nada. Nuts.

Yes, it was cruel what they did. The world has some really nasty people in it. I am naive and a little too trusting at times. I'm learning though.

It's all about Gummi Bears

I've changed my phone number again. Yes, that is twice in a month. Before that, I had the same mobile number for almost 7 years.

Optus was actually a great help with this service. They were understanding and helpful. They didn't charge me the $55 fee that I was expecting, even though they told me that the next time would cost me. I guess they are reasonable when they discovered the number was leaked without my consent.

Why the change to my one unique identifier? Why the rush to the gates of anonymity? Some may even be wondering why they haven't received the latest incarnation of my ten digit name.

The reason is that I'm guarding this one with my life. Most folks email or DM me so I texted my number to the last few people who I have texted. If you do feel the need to call or text me then do send me an online message and I'll hook you up.

Hopefully, life will settle down and I'll stop bouncing here and there and everywhere.

Fall Again by Glen Lewis

Yeah, the you tube version of the video sux but I've loved this song ever since I heard it in the movie Maid in Manhattan. It's just mellow and sweet.

Universe v You

There is a form of negative thinking that used to dominate my thought patterns. It is now so easy to identify that I find it impossible to follow it down the road to negativity.

The negative thinking consists of one single premiss - that the universe is a force that is countering or trying to negate your happiness.

The typical thought starts with words like "whenever something good happens, the universe kicks my arse" or "I'm never allowed to be happy" or "something always goes wrong".

I used to honestly believe that with every positive moment in my life, there came an equal but opposite negative and painful moment. As if I sat on the scales of Libra in the stars and rocked back and forward at the will of some unstoppable force.

If you think like this... stop. This is not what is meant by karma. There is no invisible flattening wave that waits for your good cheer and then pounces.
Now, if something bad happens, I look at what may have lead to it. It's usually things I can see in hindsight or the actions of others that are beyond my control.

This world view takes away that feeling of helplessness.

Shit is going to happen but so will good stuff. Like most seemingly random events that are the result of a million prior choices, they aren't necessarily related to each other.

No one and nothing is out to take your happiness from you. I promise.

Discovering the world

At 34, the world is like a blur that is coming in to focus. Some days it is as if I stood up too fast and reality spins a little and then gauges itself.

All my life, I have walked a flat Earth. People told me that the planet was round and I even saw pictures of it from space. Still, I walked a flat earth. I knew in theory it was not as flat as it seemed to me but knowing something in theory is not always truly knowing it.

Today seems to be one of those days when the Earth feels round or at least roundish. Everything is a little more real.

As of now, I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Maybe it just is what it is... round.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Am I boring?

My friend Megan always tells me that when someone says something unkind to you that hurts you, you should always ask yourself why they are saying it. She says this in a sophisticated Scottish accent and always sounds wise.

Truth is that the truth itself can be delivered in a way that does not destroy a person's self image. I have heard people say "there is no positive criticism" but I do not agree with that. There is always something you can learn from criticism. Even if all you learn is that the person giving it is not a nice person.

On Boxing Day last year, I ran in to an old school... acquaintance. Can't say this person was a friend but we got to talking and became friends. There has been two decades between when we initially met and when we met again as adults. In that time, we have traversed very different paths. There is no chance that our lives would ever cross, except for pure chance. When you least expect or even need it, Chance will kick you in the bum.

From the day I can recall recalling anything, I was taught not to judge people. That people are all created equally and that even if you do not agree or understand a point of view, the person expressing it has a right to have it.

As in all theory, there is the painful reality that takes that theory and body slams it to the ground and then jumps in its minivan and backs over it repeatedly.

The mistake I made in my understanding of what I was told was that I thought this meant that everybody was like me. That I should expect from others, the same consideration and decency that I display in my day-to-day life.

Oh deary, what a shock it has been to find that the world is not full of well-meaning Damanas!

The two months since that Boxing Day my newest friend exposed me to what I can only describe as the Underbelly of Darwin life. There are people who spend most of their measly income on drugs and drink. Muscle men who inject illegal steroids through needles with gauges that I've only seen in cartoons. Women who beat other women. Men who were obviously bullied at school and go out almost every night in the hopes of drawing blood or putting someone in hospital. People doing drugs like speed at work. Strippers, enforcers, teenage single mothers to fathers who could be their fathers. Incestuous groups of friends who are confusing the gene pool. Domestic abuse. Oh, so many other disturbing things.

I have been told over and over by such people that I'm a boring person with an office job. I have no edge. I have no street smarts and that makes me dumb. If computers were turned off, I'd die and they would survive because they run this world. That there is nothing smart about spending time finishing school or studying at university. That life is about hardship and looking after number one. Oh, so many other disturbing things.

In the last few weeks, I have stepped away from this world that I am glimpsing through mostly fist covered eyes. I've seen the basic survival of these people. Their inability to want any more than what they have and to be at an uneasy peace with that. The constant raging torrent of anger and hate that thrashes through them. The way they constantly judge everyone they see around them, as if trying to find some reason they are better... some reason why their lives are ok.

At first, I was shocked... then sad... and then meh.

If this is the real world, then I like my boring, safe, predictable world where no one wants to "smash me" and I'm not constantly freaking out about seeing police cars. My boring vanilla world where people have common courtesy and are civil to each other, not because they are forced to but because they are mostly happy with life and don't see the need to be angry.

Why am I writing this? Maybe because I am not that street smart. I never knew this world existed. Truth is, I don't much care for it. I'm happy for it to be an underbelly. I personally prefer a slow cooked pork belly served with apples poached in champagne.